Over many years we’d been trying to convince friends of the joys of caravanning. No matter how hard we tried, our efforts kept turning sour. Like the time that we took them to a caravan park and the town water main burst causing all the park’s toilets to back up. And the time that we took them to our favourite peaceful riverside park and a gun-toting drunk ran through the park firing shots, thankfully not at us. Our friends have now retired and despite these calamities, they bought themselves a caravan…
We’re at the Crusader’s holiday house up the bush and spend the afternoon talking caravan stuff as they have taken delivery of their new van. Woody and Double or Nuthin’ help Sir Crusader with the intricacies of the caravan. We are reminded of how daunting a new van can be, well to be honest this big shiny new caravan appears to be holding its owners to ransom as it has them near quaking in fear. I daren’t point out that there’s a very fine line between adventure and disaster in this caper.
We have celebratory drinks in the new Crusader before returning to the house for a BBQ.
Sir and Lady Crusader choose to sleep in the house for the night which has us baffled as their new van has super cosy gas heating and a big queen-sized bed. Our van and the Nuthin’s one are plugged into the power in the barn so we have our electric blankets on in anticipation of a chilly night. At 10:30 I receive a text from Shirley Temple (that’s Double or Nuthin’s missus) warning me that the power has gone out and may affect the fridge. I decide that in this weather it should hold until morning without any problems (I’ll be damned if I’m going out in the cold to turn the gas bottle on). Woody snores on in oblivion thanks to a little first-night excitement. Unbeknown to us Shirley gives up and bundles a very drunk Double or Nuthin’, who’s tip-toeing about the caravan like a ballet dancer, into the house for the night.
Next morning, we turn the power back on again, it was only a tripped switch. It got down to 4 degrees overnight.
The boys conduct, wait for it, awning practise (up, down, in, out and repeat).
We light a fire out in the yard and Double or Nuthin’ steams a pot of mussels. We finish the evening with a lamb roast and an early night. Good heavens are we the only ones sleeping in our van again?
Day 3 as we prepare to leave, I notice that Woody didn’t turn the fridge back on yesterday morning (only the power switch in the barn), which means that the fridge hasn’t been on for about 36 hours! Thankfully the weather is still icy cold (bloody freezing) and the fridge is well sealed, everything is as it should be, cold or frozen.
Once the new van is hitched up (though it seems empty by our standards) we head off. At this stage, I might add that we are a little overloaded as we’re heading up to Cairns. It’s only 35kms to Melville Caves, cross country and down a few back roads and, because we’ve been there before we don’t pay any attention whatsoever to the last road sign. Gabbi Garmin takes advantage of our inattention and directs us to a dirt mountain track. After a roadside conference we decide to do a U turn and return to the correct road about a kilometre behind us. Of course, this triggers all local traffic to suddenly appear on this quiet back road and wait patiently as each car and van does an about turn. By now The Crusaders are wondering why on earth they even contemplated buying a caravan, both are glaring and appear to be blowing steam out of their ears while the rest of us are relishing the moment.
Next morning, The Crusaders sneak quietly down the mountain to the shops…to buy soap. I reckon they’ll need a lot more than that.
2022 Note: We’re probably the only ones that are silly enough to drive from Melbourne to Cairns via Warracknabeal in Victoria’s west. If this third ‘welcome to caravanning’ exercise wasn’t enough the Nuthin’s then decided to take The Crusaders on another shakedown trip to Inverloch on the coast. This time a freak wind gust blew the Nuthin’s awning up into the air and plopped it neatly on top of the caravan roof. Thankfully, insurance covered the cost of a new awning and to replace the side of the van. There’s never a dull moment in this caravanning caper.